Dr Colby Eaton BSc, PhD

Dr Colby Eaton

Academic Unit of Bone Biology
Department of Oncology & Metabolism
D Floor, The Medical School
Beech Hill Road
S10 2RX

Office: DU 28

Telephone: 44 (0)114 215 9226
Fax: 44 (0)114 271 2475
Email: c.l.eaton@sheffield.ac.uk

Secretary: Laura Phelan
Telephone: +44 (0)114 215 9019
Email: l.phelan@sheffield.ac.uk


I joined the University of Sheffield in 1994, having previously been working at the University of Wales College of Medicine (UWCM) in Cardiff. I did my PhD while working at the Tenovus Institute for Cancer Research in Cardiff (UWCM). Prior to this I was an undergraduate in St Andrews University, Scotland where I read Anatomy and Experimental Pathology (BSc Hons). I am currently a Senior Lecturer in the Academic Unit of Bone Biology.

Research Interests

My research interests are focused on prostate biology and prostate cancer. Current studies are focused on the mechanisms by which prostate cancer cells survive and grow in skeletal metastases. In particular, I am interested in the mechanisms utilized by tumour cells to increase their genetic heterogeneity and to selectively adapt to different environments. My group has recently shown that somatic cell fusion occurs between prostatic cancer cells at low frequency and that this is one driver of genetic and phentotypic diversification within populations.

Previously the group identified osteoprotegerin (OPG) as an anti-apoptotic factor produced by bone marrow stromal cells and by tumour cells that protects the latter from the effects of the pro-apoptotic cytokine TRAIL. The presence of OPG may be an important determinant in prostate cancer survival particularly in the skeleton. Other studies have shown that members of the insulin-like growth factor family are also bone derived growth promoters for prostate cancer cells, able to augment or replace the requirement for androgens in prostatic cancer cell lines. These studies, while identifying novel mechanisms by which prostate cancer cells may gain a survival advantage in bone, have also highlighted heterogeneity in survival and tumour forming capacity in sub-populations of prostate cancer cells. Present studies are directed towards the identification of specific tumour cell subtypes that are capable of interacting with the bone microenvironment to form metastases. These cells are likely to have undergone genetic adaptation and understanding the mediators of this process as well as the environmental requirements of the bone metastasis `niche´ are the focus of my current work.

Teaching Interests

I currently teach oncology related topics and general scientific method on the MSc in Molecular Medicine. I supervise PhD students and contribute to the Faculty and School provision for postgraduate studies as a long-standing member of the relevant committees at each level. I am also Postgraduate Lead for Human Metabolism.

Professional Activities

I review regularly for a number of international journals and national cancer research charities.

Current Projects

• Defining the Metastatic Niche (collaboration with Dr Ingunn Holen and Prof. Peter Croucher).

• Somatic cell fusion as a driver for heterogeneity in prostate cancer.

• Defining interactions between metastasis initiating prostate cancer cells and the bone metastatic niche.

Key Publications